A shortage of English teachers has compelled South Korea to take the next logical step and plan a $45 million rollout of robotic teaching assistants. That official go-ahead follows several months of robot trials, io9 says based on Korean news reports. But the idea of replacing old fashioned human English teachers has already stirred much debate.
The robotic teachers would deploy in 500 preschools by 2011, and 8,000 preschools and kindergartens by 2013. In the short run, that could help address the lack of English teachers in rural areas or remote islands. Learning English represents a necessary educational step for competitive South Korean students, and especially those aiming to study abroad at major universities in the U.S.
But South Korean robotics experts have already begun predicting that the bots could replace more than 30,000 native English teachers in Korea's language institutes within the not-so distant future, according to the Korea Times. Most of those teachers hail from the U.S., Canada, UK and Australia.
By contrast, many teachers interviewed by the Korea Times found the notion of being replaced by robots fairly laughable and of low concern. The South Korean government has so far only endorsed robotic teachers to help alleviate the shortage of human teachers.
Watching some of the videos, it's also hard to see robots that resemble dopey blue penguins as a threat (And an aside: What's up with the blue genital?). But there's little doubt that South Korea may surpass even Japan when it comes to deploying robots. The nation already has plans to build its first robot theme park, perhaps as a fun precursor to Westworld. And the same experts who predict the end of human English teachers also expect to see robotic golfing coaches by 2015.
what a poorly placed bumper..? charging port..? whatever it is down on the front of the robot... @_@
Yeah... that thing reminds me of a certain Penny Arcade strip. I'm sure somebody else here knows what I'm talking about.
@Mikhailian, I know what your talking about. I sure hope none of those poor children bring any fruit to school.
beyond the obvious *ahem* ... distraction... its an interesting idea, i suppose it could work. people have used computer software to teach and learn languages for years, this just puts it on a mobile platform with more interactivity. good idea, strange design.
rolf!! I decided to look at the comments on this to see if anyone else noticed... sure enough!
weird how they put the robot to the left in the background. you'd think it would be front and center in the picture...
Korea is doing it cuz they hate anyone not Korean
Korea has no shortages of English teachers. They have a shortage of white teachers(im white). They simply won't hire anyone who doesn't have Aryan physical characteristics (allusion anyone). They think all of us 외국인(foreigners) have aids and are evil. source(anti english spectrum). Korea is a joke of a country. They treat handicaps's poorly, woman poorly, their education system is corrupt,they are racist and openly admit to it.
Seems to me that an interactive computer with English audio would be just as useful as this robotic teletubby.
The fact that the person who goes by honkykongphooey chooses a name from a cartoon that was based on Asian stereotypes cancels any semblance of moral authority their comments might have had. One cannot impugn an entire population on personal experiences--would you say that the United States is a racist nation because of the Ku Klux Klan? I am in my third year of teaching, and I have yet to encounter any bigotry--the same goes for many of my peers, many of whom have been living and working here longer than me. Historically, Korea has been a homogenized nation, defensive as a result of many invasions in the past. May 18, a democratic uprising against an oppressive regime (which was supported by the U.S., mind you) was only 30 years ago, so suspicion remains. Yet, the social dynamics are rapidly changing, with the younger generations of Koreans being more open and progressive-minded. I do agree that the disabled should be respected more, and that women are still mistreated to a degree (a holdover from Confucian tradition), but again, the younger generations are changing that mindset. We only see what we choose to--many foreigners who come here behave as if they're a gift to Korea, and expect the people to adapt to American or European ways. They are often unaccustomed to being minorities for the first times in their lives, and react negatively. I think if you come here,or to any other country, you should do so with clear eyes and minds. I do regret the individual's negative experience here, and I hope that it changes for the better for him or her.